College Football Week 12 takeaways
Northwestern in the Big Ten West driver seat
From 3-9 a year ago to 5-0 and in first place in the Big Ten West, Pat Fitzgerald has done a tremendous job getting the Wildcats to rebound in 2020. Now, after holding division-favorite Wisconsin to just seven points and causing five turnovers, Northwestern appears to be the favorite to win the division. The defense has been resurgent, giving up just 14 points per game and about 4 yards per play, good enough for 7th and 10th in the country, respectively. Their remaining three games are not difficult, so it looks like we're heading toward a Northwestern-Ohio State title game.
The Big 12 is out of the playoff race
With Oklahoma State getting blown out by Oklahoma over the weekend, each Big 12 team now has at least two losses on the season. I know it's an unprecedented year with all the different scheduling aspects due to the ongoing pandemic, but it's difficult to see the committee putting any two loss teams into the field with just four spots available. Now, if they somehow decided to expand the field because of the current environment, this would go out the window. The race for the Big 12 title itself, however, is heating up. The Cowboys' loss means that Iowa State is in first place with Oklahoma, Texas, and OSU right behind. West Virginia is also still alive, but the Mountaineers will need a lot to go their way. Should be an exciting last three weeks with many of these teams playing each other.
Cincinnati is the best non-Power 5 team
With all due respect to an impressive BYU team, the Bearcats have just had a tougher schedule to go through. Cincinnati never really had a close game until this week, and that included three wins over ranked opponents. While BYU has also been blowing out opponents each week, its only real impressive win was against Boise State. The Cougars also struggled too much against UTSA. In digging out of an early hole on the road against an explosive UCF offense, Cincinnati showed that it can overcome challenges against good teams. That's why I believe they are the top choice here.
The PAC-12 looks like Oregon & USC
There still isn't a lot to go off of in the PAC-12 yet, but these two are the only currently ranked teams. Neither one has been overly impressive, but they have each overcome some struggles to pull out wins. Washington State, Washington, and Arizona State could still emerge, but the short season makes it difficult to make up any ground. I also don't see many other challenging games on the schedules for these two.
Tulsa surging in the AAC
Since losing their opener at Oklahoma State, the Golden Hurricane have won five in a row. They are currently in second place in the conference at 5-1, behind only undefeated No. 7 Cincinnati. The two teams are scheduled to meet in the final game of the regular season on December 12th. If Tulsa can get by Navy and Houston, it should be a battle for first place.